Israeli precision irrigation technology company Saturas has raised a $4 million Series A round from a group of international investors.
Saturas’s sensing system is comprised of miniature implanted sensors and wireless transponders that can measure Stem Water Potential (SWP), a metric that’s widely recognized as one of the most accurate for determining the water status of plants.
Current methods of obtaining an SWP measurement are labor intensive and expensive, according to a Saturas. The company says its sensor is the only one that is embedded in tree trunks, providing direct contact with plant water tissues. This enables an accurate measurement of the water status of the plant and eliminates any inaccuracies that are associated with placing sensors in the soil, or on leaves and branches.
After several successful trials in citrus, apple, and almond orchards in Spain and Israel, Saturas cofounder and CEO Anat Halgoa Solomon told AgFunderNews that will the company use the new funds to bring its first products to market along with continuing development of a modified version of the company’s original sensor for use on vineyards.
New investors in this round include Chinese agricultural input company Hubei Forbon Technology Co, Israeli collective farm Ramat Magshimim, along with Spanish winery Miguel Torres Winery, which has vineyards in Spain, Chile, and the US. Existing investors Gefen Capital, Trendlines, the Israel Farmers’ Union, and Shlomo Nechama also participated. The company raised a $1 million seed round in early 2016.
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The Saturas sensor is the basis for an Advanced Decision Support System, which can be made fully automatic, though Solomon says that farmers are looking more for decision support than to turn over their critical decisions to technology.
Solomon explained to AgFunderNews in August that farmers often over water their crops by about 20% “just in case.” Besides being a waste of precious resources, overwatering also contributes to environmental problems such as pesticide runoff.
“To the Chinese plantation industry, the impact Saturas brings will not only be economical, but social as well — while boosting yields for a large number of Chinese farmers, it will also make outstanding contributions to China’s water-saving in agriculture,” said Renzong Wang, Chairman of Hubei Forbon Technology Co. Ltd.
Solomon says that she expects to bring a product to market this year. “We are planning demonstration trials in Israel, Spain, and California already this coming irrigation season and we will sell through distributors like irrigation companies or IoT companies,” she continued.
Saturas is a portfolio company of the Trendlines agtech incubator platform.